STAFF REVIEW of Reign of Fire (Xbox)

Tuesday, March 4, 2003.
by kitt

Reign of Fire Box art Many of you are asking yourselves, is this just another movie to video game failure? The answer sadly enough is yes. Movies are notoriously bad for failing to port successfully to video games, and this one is no exception. It?s not that this game is horrible, but after a couple of hours into the game the fun factor vanished almost immediately.

Initial I thought this game had a formula for success. As part of a group of human resistance fighters, you battle fire-breathing, high-flying dragons, bent on eliminating the human race. At your disposal is combination of heavy artillery and machinery including gun turrets, rockets, heat seeking missiles, jeeps, tanks, ATVs, even fire trucks. At a later stage in the game you can even assume the role of a dragon and set out to barbeque as many people as possible. Even though this game looks great on paper it falls short in many areas of actual gameplay, graphics and sound.

If you have never seen the movie, this game does a good job of familiarizing you with the storyline and characters. As Quinn, the leader of a small encampment, you join the leader of the Kentucky Irregulars named Van Zan who has come to bring hope to humanity and take on the dragons.

At best this game is a rental, unless you are a hard-core Reign of Fire movie fan (I?m not sure if there are many of these), because this game features some extras such as a movie trailer, concept art and a music video. For the rest of you this is just another single player (no multiplayer features), linear mission based game with frustrating controls, dreary graphics and gameplay with very little replay value.

With nine driving human levels and nine different flying dragon levels, Reign of Fire is a relatively large game, and unique in the fact that you get to play the role of the good and the bad guy. You start the game with some basic training and move right into the fast paced mission levels including escort, search and rescue, protect and black hawk down type missions just to name a few. This game offers some challenging gameplay, but lacks an in game save feature, so you end up doing levels over and over from the beginning, killing any enjoyment this game has to offer and players will find their main concern is getting to grips with the controls.

The basic control system is such that, where you aim your weapon is where the vehicle will go. Gamers will find it frustrating watching their vehicle struggle to make it halfway up some of the many hills in the game, but thankfully targeting enemies and firing your weapons is simple. The dragon flying system is a bit better and a little more enjoyable, but you find yourself awkwardly struggling to make sharp turns while getting blasted from below.

Adding to the frustration of the game is a poor navigation/radar system, because in many points of the game you end up in the middle of nowhere with no idea where to go and often end up where you started. After the first few levels the game?s missions feel repetitive, offering nothing else despite the fact that you can control different vehicles, but I have to admit the tank was pretty cool.

This aspect of the game produced some mixed opinions. On one had you have some great looking fire-breathing dragons swarming up above in an ash polluted darkened sky. They are well modeled and textured, with much attention paid to the fire and smoke effects. The cinematic cut scenes are fantastic, because many of them are pulled from the actual movie.

This game also offers multiple camera views so you can choose to immerse yourself in the action or assume a bird?s eye view. On the other hand there is a dilemma here because the close up view offers the greatest detail and action, but nearly impossible to play in because you find yourself with a restricted view, spinning around, looking above for approaching dragons.

I understand that the game takes place in a charred, post-apocalyptic world, but the result of this is a lot of bland, repeating patterns in the gameplay environment with poor shadowing. The environments show essentially large polygonal stretches of land, with few details to cover them.

If you like simple sound effects and the rat-a-tat-tat of machine guns, then this game is for you. The missile and explosion sound effects were not as good as I would have liked and overall nothing about sound in this game really blew me away. Music on the other hand is great and assists in creating some excitement in the game.

If there ever is a sequel, seriously consider improving the graphics and getting a little more creative with the gameplay environments and missions. A much needed improvement in controls and navigation would also help as well.

Overall: 6.0 / 10
Gameplay: 7.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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